Review: Foxtails - III

Foxtails - III
(2017 Emocat)

A warm downpour slicks the interstate. Beads of condensation trickle down the windshield as bus tires slice through reflective pools, making each attempt at braking a little too slippery for comfort. Stray precipitation wriggles through the always-cracked window across the aisle, buffeting your forearm as your grip the seat in front of you more tightly. Confined to this vessel, you ride at the mercy of the driver and the rainfall. Something about the rumble of the floor underfoot, radiant with the bus' warmth, lets you relax and steep in the helplessness.

Foxtails' untitled third LP is entrenched in this feeling of counterfeit safety. Stitching their verses together with Slint-esque riffs, the Connecticut skramz trio thread a patchwork of wiry math-rock melodies and sludge-laden crescendoes. Each optimistic twinkle is contrasted by an ominous growl - each sung dream-pop lyric tows a screeched chorus to match. 

Dealing a confused shuffle of woozy introspection and unfiltered catharsis, Foxtails struggle to choose between their inner inclinations toward The Innocence Mission and Flowers Taped To Pens. "The Chicken From Outer Space" marries the two sounds seamlessly: its opening salvo of tangly jazz phrasings stumble over drum fills, falling headfirst into a placid shoegaze stew. A minute-and-a-half into the tune, though, the band lets of go of their safety restraints. Michael Larocca's percussion crumbles to a faint shuffle as Jon Benham's guitar coats itself in the remaining crumbs. Megan Cadena-Fernandez intensifies her vocal delivery, morphing her slight intonation into a piercing scream. III is packed with these biting hooks: brief emotional outbursts meant to expunge self-doubt.

Closing cut "Every Window in Alcatraz Has a View of San Francisco" closes the record with its most polished composition. Building up speed as it progresses, the track gathers in its orbit strands of clouded guitaristry that twist and bend like stretched gum. Cadena-Fernandez and Benham trade screams over antsy bleats of distortion that slowly pressurize until the album's finale, a vomited explosion of abstract emotion - pure, vitriolic ambience. 

III is a fast-track to emotional release: a boom-and-bust cycle of energy that's as potentially nauseating as it is thrilling. Make sure you're primed for mountainous drops, sharp turns, and stomach-churning loops before boarding.